Hot quark-gluon soup cooked up in collisions of gold atoms
WASHINGTON — Talk about hot and heavy. Scientists have taken the temperature of a minuscule glob of dense, hot matter formed in the grisly aftermath of collisions between gold atoms traveling near the speed of light. The material reaches an estimated 4 trillion degrees Celsius, about 250,000 times hotter than the sun’s interior, and higher than any temperature ever reached in a laboratory, researchers reported February 15 at a meeting of the American Physical Society.
The measurements, which will be published in an upcoming Physical Review Letters, provide a more detailed description of the superhot, superdense soup of matter called quark-gluon plasma, which may mimic the conditions of the infant universe, the researchers say. Other studies of the soup hint that discrete pockets of the matter break special kinds of symmetry.